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Adam Pally Is Trying To Break The Network Sitcom Dad Mold With ‘Indebted’

There’s very little that feels aspirational about the existence of the typical sitcom dad. Soft around the middle, a dork who is susceptible to being dunked on by a wife who barely seems to like him and their wicked and precocious kids. No style, no real personality, no zest for their daily life or job. They exist, but do they? Maybe that’s a harsh read. Or maybe that sounds charming to some, like the focus group of mad dads that probably set the whole thing in motion in the ’80s. But as a millennial starting to consider a changeover into dadsville, the examples proffered by pop culture aren’t great. Adam Pally gets that.

Best known as a loveable slacker/smart-ass on Happy Endings, Pally really hasn’t had the chance to mine his primary existence as a husband and father of three. Enter NBC’s Indebted, a chance for Pally to step into the sitcom dad space, bringing a welcome weariness for those consuming tropes and a plan to upend them. It’s simple, really, he’s trying to be authentic in both his look, attitude, and relationship to the show’s other characters. And that authenticity is what helps to set this effort apart from past attempts to coolify the sitcom dad. Efforts that have mostly felt like re-skins.

Dan Levy (not the Schitt’s Creek one) is an architect of that plan as well, serving as the show’s creator. He and Pally go back, their kids are friends, and they have what he describes as similar backgrounds and similar lives. Together, they’re telling a story about what he describes as a “very specific family” that connects, in general ways, with his and Pally’s reality.

“I feel like there’s this moment in your life where you have these young kids around you. Your life is insane. You’re super tired, super busy. But you’re really happy with your life — it’s just exhausting. And Adam plays it so well,” says Levy.

We spoke with Pally recently about aesthetic choices that allow his character to stand out, what separates his and Abby Elliott’s TV marriage from the pack, learning from his TV parents (Steven Webber and Fran Drescher), and how the show might handle our new post-COVID reality.

You guys have the nicest sitcom house. Props to the set designers. It’s like an Ikea showroom.

Yeah, I think that’s honestly how we wanted a lot of it to feel. You know part of these sitcoms is that you want to feel… especially with multi-cam, you want to feel comfortable in the house that you’re living in for 22 minutes. Because multi-cams are considered, like, an old way of doing things, I think we wanted to go against that and do something that had a vintage vibe but updated to look how we really live.

The way the world is right now, do you feel like it’s possible to work this situation (the quarantine) into a show like this or do you have to just kind of move away from it next season?

I think we’ll approach it the same way we approach everything going on now, which is like, we’re not the show that is going to get inside of the dilemma and tackle it. But we are the show that can help live with the tiny inconveniences of the fallout. I’m quarantined out on Long Island with my mother-in-law right now and I can tell you I have a lot of things that I could write about. You know, like having to tell my mother-in-law why the disease doesn’t care that she’s a strong broad from Queens… [laughs] you know, like that’s funny to me. And I think it’ll be funny when Fran Drescher does it [on the show]. I think there’s a lot of room to be funny. I think you’re seeing it… like, big ups to everybody doing comedic stuff right now. I’m on my phone all day long and one of the only things getting me through is, you know, reading my friends who are still writing jokes. Big ups for anybody who is doing it right now.

How much inspiration do you and the other writers get from those personal experiences with in-laws, with mothers and fathers?

I mean, we try to take everything from a place of truth first and then we build on that. And again, we’re trying to do something that is not going to give you the answers but show you the problem, if that makes sense.

It does, definitely. One thing I really like about the show is the relationship between you and Abby Elliott’s character, that husband/wife dynamic that isn’t necessarily that kind of cliche sitcom kind of thing.

Well, a couple of things that Abby and I wanted to avoid when we first started the show… like, I’ve never understood why married couples on TV are always upset. I understand that conflict is easier to write than harmony, but I don’t know why the husband and the wife need to conflict on all of these shows. And we wanted to do a show where the husband and the wife like each other. I mean, I think both Dan and I come from marriages where we like each other. And so most of our comedic inconveniences aren’t coming from, “how are we going to get away from each other?” It’s, “how are we going to be with each other?” And so I think Abby and I were really looking to bring that in. And then I think the other thing we really wanted to do, similar to the set, was like make sure that the look felt right. Again, like on TV, there’s this version of a married dad or mom that is boring. Everything is just kind of boring — they want to appeal to everyone. And we were like, I think what will appeal to everyone is what’s exciting. I think that just seeing that in the wardrobe changes the way you feel about us.

Yeah, I mean it seems like the wardrobe is somewhat close to your sensibilities. I met you once on the set of The President Show and I remember you were rocking some throwback Jordans, so you’ve got some style game and obviously your character has some style game.

Yeah, I think Dan does and I think everybody on the show does. You know, like Fran Drescher definitely does as well. Abby Elliot too. I think people relate to Abby and I because they see ourselves in that.

I’m curious what it’s been like to work with Fran Drescher and Steven Webber and how that’s influenced things.

Oh, it’s a dream. It’s great. They’re right up my alley. It’s like having an extra set of Jewish parents. You know, obviously, Fran’s kooky and Steven is nuts, but I like that. And I learned so much from working with them. Not just, like, tangible things like comedic timing and all of that. But also vibe and like how to feel in a moment and how to not put so much pressure on things. When to accelerate, when to pull back. You know, like that kind of stuff can be really helpful when you’re dealing with people who are so sure of themselves. So I think I’m lucky.

This feels a little unique relative to the rest of your career in that it’s got a family angle to it where you’re playing a dad. Why did that connect to you right now?

I was looking to do something like this. Right before this I did another show on YouTube with David Caspe (the creator of Happy Endings) and Sam Richardson, who I think the world of. And it was a big swing and it came out terrific, I loved it, and I’m so proud of it. Called Champaign, ILL on YouTube. But it kinda got swallowed up by the amount of stuff going on and no one could find it. The subject matter was specific and I had just come off that and I had put a lot of myself into that and I wanted to do something that was equally myself, but on the other side. Something that was a little more tangible and a little more something that had the possibility of reaching more people.

I just saw the Main Event/Netflix announcement. Can you talk a little bit about how working with the WWE came to be. Are you a wrestling fan?

I’m not a super wrestling fan. I read the script and I liked the script and I really liked the director, Jay Karas. I think he’s a funny guy and I liked in the script the way they were treating a multi-racial family and I thought it was an interesting part for me because, again, I haven’t played a lot of dads, and this was a different kind of dad a so I thought I wanted to give that a try as well. I was excited to do something [where the character was] a little more grounded and, you know, it’s this big fantastical movie, I don’t have to do too much and the wrestlers were great.

I know you said you’re not a wrestling fan now, were you a wrestling fan like way back when you were a kid?

Yeah, I loved it. I had like Ultimate Warrior toys and whatnot. I loved Hulk Hogan, but I wouldn’t say that I’m like an adult fan. My kids are too young to be into it, but they will like it now when I make them watch the movie and tell all their friends.

‘Indebted’ airs Thursdays at 9pm ET on NBC and ‘The Main Event’ drops April 10 on Netflix

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LaMelo Ball And His Manager Bought His Australian Basketball Team

LaMelo Ball is expected to go quite high in the 2020 NBA Draft, whenever that ends up happening. While his path to the league is about as unconventional as they come — he went from a high school powerhouse in California, to a pro team in Lithuania, to a school in Ohio, to his most recent stop in Australia’s National Basketball League — there is no denying his mix of talent and upside.

But before Ball leaves Australia, the 6’6 guard has one final piece of business he wants to get out of the way. According to ESPN, Ball and his manager, Jermaine Jackson, have decided to purchase his NBL squad, the Illawarra Hawks. Jackson explained that Ball grew fond of the fans and the community, which “opened their arms to him” when he joined the franchise last June. Now, with the Hawks in a bit of a financial bind, he wants to reciprocate that love.

“He is going to be locked into his NBA career, but we are going to hire the right people to oversee everything,” Jackson told ESPN. “He wants to create the best basketball program possible for that community there.”

Jackson mentioned that he’s had conversation with “several former NBA GMs” and “high-level coaches that won every championship you can imagine” about potentially being part of this project, and also said that while Ball is going to be focused on his NBA career during the season, he wants to get down to Australia during the offseason to help grown the game down under.

“When Melo wants to do stuff in the summertime, we’ll be there,” Jackson said. “We’ll take a tour with his family all over Australia, doing basketball camps and connecting with the youth. He wants to inspire the next generation.”

We’ll have to wait and see how this arrangement works in the long run and if there’s any red tape that needs to be cut through. It’s a major undertaking and quite the move for an 18 year old who isn’t officially in the NBA yet, but it is evident that making sure the club is a financially viable place is really important to Ball.

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Lady Gaga Guested On ‘Fallon’ To Make A Big Announcement But Realized She Wasn’t Ready To Yet

The Tonight Show continues to host quarantine edition episodes of the program, and during last night’s show, Jimmy Fallon was hoping to get a big breaking news announcement from Lady Gaga. That was the plan, but when he got her on a video chat for the show, things didn’t go as he had hoped they would.

When the call started, Gaga seemed to be confused as she continually apologized and told Fallon that she couldn’t make her expected announcement just yet. She told the host, “I can’t tell you everything right now because I’m still ironing out the details and I have a lot of phone calls to make.” That latter point is easy to believe, as there was a phone ringing by Gaga in the background for most of the call. She then scheduled another call with Fallon for Friday and noted that what she wants to announce is “for COVID-19.”

Later that day, she called Fallon back to tell him that Friday actually didn’t work, but promised that their next call would happen on Monday (April 6), so whatever Gaga has planned is still a few days away.

Watch the clip of Gaga and Fallon’s not-so-productive video call above.

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An Expert On Vaccines And Disease Control Phoned Into Joe Rogan’s Podcast To Fight Coronavirus Myths

There’s a lot of misinformation about the coronavirus floating around out there. Myths and outright lies are the currency of hucksters and global pandemics are feeding season for the unscrupulous. We need real experts now more than ever. Yesterday, that expert was Dr. Peter Hotez — who skyped into the Joe Rogan podcast.

Say what you will about Rogan, he has a massive audience and has often used his platform to highlight what actual scientists say about health, vaccines, fitness, and nutrition (he has also, according to many, given far too big a platform to crackpots). Dr. Hotez is legit, though. He works at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital and has devoted his life to studying tropical diseases, vaccines, and finding cures to things like the coronavirus. He’s a no-nonsense expert whose goal right now is to get real information to as many people as possible.

We thought we’d parse some of the most important highlights from Rogan’s chat with Dr. Hotez. The doc himself prefaces all of this with a big disclaimer, “Anything I say today, I might look like the biggest idiot tomorrow or next week.” It’s important to remember that this is a brand new virus that we’ve never seen before. “We’re learning new things about this virus every day,” Dr. Hotez makes clear. In reality, it’s only been four months since we’ve known about COVID-19 — also called SARS-CoV-2 or just SARS-2 or coronavirus 2 — and that’s how long we’ve had to learn about it. Dr. Hotez points out that it took over a year to learn almost everything about SARS-1.

Here’s the rest:

How Did We Get Here?

“The truth is, we knew this was coming,” Dr. Hotez says plainly. “We had a heads up before last year because this is now our third major coronavirus disaster of the 21st century.”

Dr. Hotez then goes to break down how SARS-1 in 2003 that spread from China to Canada and beyond. Then he briefly touches on the MERS coronavirus EMC/2012 epidemic. Both coronaviruses started in bats. In the case of SARS-1, it was from bats via civets from wet markets in China. In the case of MERS, it was an Egyptian Tomb Bat that someone was keeping in their home.

According to Dr. Hotez, the medical community has been working on a coronavirus vaccine for over a decade.

What’s The Difference Between SARS-1, MERS, and COVID-19 (or SARS-2)?

Dr. Hotez says that “both SARS-1 and MERS made you so sick and had such a high fatality rate, that anybody who got it was almost immediately hospitalized … and basically out of the community.”

The difference with COVID-19 and what makes it so toxic, the doctor explains, is that there’s a “big group of people walking around and spreading the disease” unknowingly. And that can be devastating for people with maladies like high blood pressure, lung issues, diabetes, other health issues, or simply advanced age.

How Much More Lethal Is COVID-19 Than The Seasonal Flu?

The doc says it’s five to ten times more deadly as far as they now know. When the subject comes up again later, he revises that to “four to ten times” more lethal. According to Hotez, anywhere from 12,000 to 50,000 Americans die from the flu yearly and the “vast majority of those people die because they didn’t get a flu shot.”

With COVID-19 four to ten times more deadly than the common seasonal flu and if we’re able to contain this virus, that’s still anywhere from 48,000 to 500,000 deaths comparatively.

The point Dr. Hotez is trying to get across is that a lot of Americans are likely going to die from this. He hopes it’s closer to the low end but we just don’t know right now. Per Dr. Hotez, “again, those are models based on assumptions and with a new virus pathogen it’s hard to get all the assumptions right.”

Are Only Old People Getting Sick and Dying?

Plainly, no. “The Center for Disease Control came out with this very chilling document a few weeks ago showing that a third of the very sick people in the hospital are under the age of 44.”

Dr. Hotez points out that 30 percent of hospitalizations have been people between the ages of 20 and 44. He then points out that when the disease hit European populations, it started hitting younger populations for “reasons unknown” at the moment.

Is The Virus Mutating?

Dr. Hotez points out the “host component.” That is, the virus seems to be attacking younger populations in Europe and the U.S. (which is heavily populated by European descendants). “Everything we know so far about what happens with the virus is from China. And, it turns out, the Chinese have some genetic differences to Europeans.”

Furthermore, Dr. Hotez laments that “who knows what happens?” when the virus runs through South America, South Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa.

What About The Talk Of Avoiding Ibruprofen?

Dr. Hotez bluntly says, “There’s not a lot of evidence to say your symptoms will get worse with ibuprofen.” Basically, the doctor says that it’s mostly “internet buzz” spreading a rumor and the WHO has put out a paper saying there’s really no science behind the claim.

Are Certain Blood Types More Susceptible To The Virus?

“This is actually well-known in the infectious disease literature,” says Dr. Hotez.

Dr. Hotez points out that it’s already established that a long list of diseases, viruses, bacteria, and infections can behave very differently depending on a person’s blood type. In the doctor’s words, “host’s genetics influences things quite a bit.”

What’s Going On In Germany?

Compared to Italy which has a ten percent mortality rate despite a similar amount of cases, Germany has a less than one percent mortality rate. The doctor believes it’s all a matter of the German system not being overwhelmed. “In Germany, so far, we think it’s been a combination of things.” He goes on to point out that there are more younger people getting corona in Germany with minor symptoms and that the hospital system was ready and better managed.

(I can attest to this. As I experienced firsthand, Germany was keeping people home who showed mild symptoms and not letting them flood into hospitals for the last six weeks.)

However, Dr. Hotez points out that Germany is shifting quickly. The virus has now entered the eldercare system and Germany is starting to build pop-up hospitals to deal with a surge in cases. “They’re worried now too,” Hotez says.

Why Is New Orleans Experiencing Such A High Mortality Rate?

“What happened there is they kept Mardi Gras open,” Dr. Hotez says bluntly. “A large number of people are getting infected.”

Hotez points out that, like Italy, this overwhelmed the health system. But there’s more to it than that he says.

“There’s lots of people living in extreme poverty [in New Orleans]. And poverty is very linked to diabetes and hypertension. And we know diabetes and hypertension is a big risk factor for death.” Hotez says it’s like New Orleans is getting hit twice. Once due to the overwhelmed medical system and once again due to the poverty rate among the African American population with diabetes and hypertension plaguing that community.

Dr. Hotez ends by mentioning that authorities in Houston, Texas are very worried about the warning signs they’re seeing in New Orleans as their demographics are very similar.

Do Smoking And Vaping Exacerbate The Virus?

“Smoking actually up-regulates the receptor in the lungs that virus responds to,” according to the doctor. Translation: That means smoking is creating more receptors in the lungs for the virus to bind to, thus accelerating the virus’s growth and severity.

With Vaping, it’s less clear. While there are a lot of young people who vape getting put on ventilators, there just haven’t been enough studies on vaping, in general, to know the effects when coupled with COVID-19, according to Hotez.

What About Chloroquine?

Chloroquine is an anti-malarial that is also used as an anti-inflammatory in the treatment of lupus and other autoimmune issues. Dr. Hotez breaks down why it’s getting press right now.

“We know that this drug can block the replication of the virus in the test tube.” (Emphasis ours) “Second, we know this drug reduces inflammation,” the doctor says. We know COVID-19 causes inflammation in the lungs as the virus takes hold. An anti-inflammatory as a treatment tracks.

According to Dr. Hotez, the whole thing is based on a very small study in France where a scientist combined chloroquine with azithromycin and found positive results in patients with COVID. “The problem was it was a very tiny study,” Dr. Hotez points out.

People have been touting this as a miracle cure but Dr. Hotez isn’t so sure until we do massive and widespread studies to see if it really works. He’s speaking from a place of knowledge. Evidently ten years ago, they found that chloroquine worked wonders in the test tube against influenza and then didn’t have any effect on the population. “It didn’t pan out,” the doctor laments.

He does say that clinical trials are scaling up and that “there’s a lot of ‘off-label’ use” of chloroquine right now. Still, he says that the evidence is “not strong.” Again, that’s now. This could change.

How Long Will It Take To Get A Vaccine?

“A year, 18 months, but likely longer. We simply don’t know.” That’s sobering, we know.

What’s Happening With People In Wuhan Testing Positive Again After Recovering?

“We don’t know.” Hotez carries on to say that it’s highly unlikely they’re getting re-infected once they developed anti-bodies but we simply don’t know for sure right now.

Basically, it breaks down to this: It’s really hard to test for respiratory viruses in the first place. That’s also responsible for some of the delays in getting testing off the ground in the first place for COVID-19.

How Important Is Social Distancing?

Dr. Hotez states it simply: “Without a vaccine or other technologies, we have to go back to the 14th century when quarantine was invented.” In short, social distancing is the only tool we have right now to stop the spread of the virus.

The doctor then goes on to break down why we know social distancing works. He says the modeling from the cities in China where they used social distancing have shown “the longer you allowed transmission to go on before you intervened with social distancing and other things, the worse the surge and the worse the epidemic and therefore, as we talked in Italy, the worse the mortality.”

Dr. Hotez cites Wuhan which took six weeks to take measures compared to other cities in South China that only waited a week. The evidence shows that waiting longer led to a massive surge in people showing up at the hospital, overwhelming the system, and leading to much higher death rates in Wuhan.

Hotez also points out that because “things got so fucked up with testing” in the United States that people were transmitting the disease for weeks and we only learned how bad it was by people showing up in emergency rooms already very ill. This tracks with what’s happening in New Orleans, Detroit, New York, and Atlanta right now.

Social distancing is absolutely “paramount,” says Dr. Hotez. “That’s all we got right now.”

When Will This Peak In The U.S.?

Estimates from the experts studying this say by mid-April we’ll hit the peak, according to Dr. Hotez. That’s another two weeks. There’s a big “but” coming, however:

That’s not nationwide. Dr. Hotez points out that the modeling for Texas and Calfornia pin the peak of the viral outbreak in May.

Overall, the numbers show that the “next two months are going to be the crunch time” where numbers are always going up. That’s until June, folks.

The way Dr. Hotez sees it, the April 30th date Trump has assigned is more of a date to reaccess whether we go another month in lockdown or not.

The doctor says, “We hope that by the summer this won’t be a huge problem. But we really don’t know.”

What Don’t We Know?

This is more a collection of things that Dr. Hotez says we don’t know that we’ve compiled in one spot for clarity.

  • We don’t know if we can get people to properly social distance to lower the spread for long enough. We don’t have to look far to see how many people still aren’t taking social distancing seriously.
  • We don’t know the seasonality of the virus and how severe it might come back in the fall. Dr. Hotez points out that when we enter summer, our off-peak flu season, the southern hemisphere enters winter or their peak flu season.
  • We don’t know if that means this could be a year-round thing if travel restrictions are lifted too early.
  • We don’t know if this will come back year after year, as the flu does.

Can We Isolate Higher-Risk People To Help Stop The Spread?

Dr. Hotez shoots this down saying that that seems to have been a thought when we believed this was only effecting sick people or the elderly. That’s changed. “Now — as the Centers for Disease Control has been reporting — we’ve had this big flux of young adults getting very sick and in the ICU.”

The doctor also points out that another thing we’ve “only just learned” is that infants are at very high risk with ten percent getting very sick in China in effected areas. News reports of infants dying in Europe and the U.S. have started trickling in.

Dr. Hotez asks, “At what point do you say that pretty much everybody is at risk?”

Is It Possible To Fully Recover From The Lung Scarring COVID-19 Causes?

The doc is very optimistic on this point, especially for the younger population. Otherwise, he says, “I think for older people, they may have some permanent pulmonary deficits.”

But again, Hotez reiterates that “it’s still too early in the epidemic to know” for certain what any lingering effects may be. Hotez points out that it usually takes years and years to fully understand a virus like this. “We’re just trying to buy time,” he says.

Here’s the full clip:

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The Best And Worst Of WWE NXT 4/1/20: Sam Hell

Previously on the Best and Worst of NXT: Matches originally scheduled for NXT TakeOver Tampa Bay were moved to the weekly TV show for a sort of NXT TakeOver: In Your House, and Triple H moderated an argument between his Garbage Sons.

If you’d like to read previous installments of the Best and Worst of NXT, you can do that here. Follow With Spandex on Twitter and Facebook. You can also follow me on Twitter, where everything and everyone is terrible.

And now, the Best and Worst of WWE NXT for April 1, 2020.

Worst: [Vague Gestures]

Thought NXT with no TakeOver and no fans was depressing? How about no TakeOver, no fans, and Sam Roberts on commentary? The next time Mauro Ranallo screams a bad analogy at the top of his lungs and you think it’s a little much, remember how lucky you are that it’s not five high-octave minutes of WWE pre-show Ben Shapiro sharing America’s worst wrestling opinions.

Up first on an almost impossible to get through episode of NXT is Velveteen Dream vs. Bobby Fish, somehow booked poolside by Adam Cole last week. I miss when William Regal made a point to show up and dunk on wrestlers for pretending they had the power to sign matches. Dream still doesn’t seem to have that pre-injury spark back yet — possibly hurt due to the lack of crowd response making his basic offense look less like a meta statement on sports-entertainment and more like, well, basic offense — and while Bobby Fish is great, he doesn’t have the obvious, over-the-top dipshit personality that anchors a lot of Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, or Roderick Strong matches. Dream wrestling in little gloves is cute, though, and probably a good idea if he’s going to be handling Fish.

Anyway, enjoy Sam dumping on Animal Crossing and saying Velveteen Dream’s not going to be able to get out of a hold while Velveteen Dream’s literally in the middle of getting out of the hold.

Best: Atlas, Shrugged

I think the high point of this week’s episode for me was the NXT debut of Jake Atlas. Great to see him on the show. He’s up against the dreaded DeXtEr LuMiS, aka “Dahmer Krueger,” and as much as that character cracks me up with how corny its whole existence is, I have to admit this is Lumis’ best NXT match so far. Thanks, Jake Atlas!

Two fun notes: (1) Lumis is now using the head and arm choke as a submission finisher, which I am unironically referring to as the HAGER CLUTCH, and (2) he has got to stop doing that move where he gets a running start, slides out of the ring on his belly, and then has to turn around and stand up to throw a punch. Why are you even doing that? He did it in a match at NXT Cleveland a few weeks ago and the entire building was split between laughing out loud or just standing there in confusion. I know you have to add theatrics to something to make it “yours,” but how is you almost breaking your wrists once per match to put yourself in the compete opposite position to throw the strike you’re trying to throw adding to your presentation? It just makes you look like an idiot. Imagine if The Rock set up the Rock Bottom by doing a handstand on the second rope and dropping himself onto his own head.

Yarp: The True Knot Lucha Brothers Are Back!

Walking Wild® loses a solid but a little underwhelming (partially due to commentary) nine minute match with KUSHIDA that’s mostly a ZOOM seminar on creative ways to get into an arm bar, but it’s mostly the prologue to Wilde getting abducted by the same public domain luchadors who kidnapped Raul Mendoza back before we were all quarantined. That’s what you get for not staying inside like you’re supposed to, Joaquin!

I’ve got to say though, it’s pretty weird that these guys are wearing Black Shadow and Dos Caras masks without, you know, being Black Shadow or Dos Caras. I hate that NXT has become a promotion where they expect fans to not know anything about wrestling. Especially when Dos Caras is a former four-time world champion’s dad, you know? As @luchablog correctly pointed out, if NXT used Tiger Mask and Jushin Thunder Liger masks here, maybe American fans would realize how weird it is for WWE to use easily identifiable wrestling legend iconography for unidentified kidnappers in a throwaway segment. Y’all don’t have the Conquistadors’ masks somewhere in storage down there? At least put in the effort to dress them up like the Lucha Dragons. We know there’s already at least two Sin Caras.

Best, But Kinda Sad At The Same Time: No One Will Survive Blackheart!

I thought the gauntlet match to see who’ll get the final spot in the NXT Women’s Championship number one contender match at NXT TakeOver Regular Episode was extremely well-booked. By the numbers, sure, but that’s by design. The numbers are there because they work. Shotzi Blackheart starts off the match and gives the performance of a lifetime, running through Deonna Purrazzo, Xia Li, Aliyah, and Kayden Carter. Not that those are top shelf opponents in NXT terms or whatever, but it’s a big accomplishment for a relative newcomer to take out four opponents in a row. And then, because opportunism is the shittiest thing you can employ in the WWE Universe, evil Dakota Kai enters last AND utilizes outside interference from Lady Diesel Raquel Gonzalez to take out a tired opponent and win the match. Gauntlet matches only really exist so you can get pissed about how unfair they are. That’s part of what made Kofi Kingston having to win a million of them to get to WrestleMania such an anomalous accomplishment.

The “kinda sad at the same time” modifier up there is because Shotzi did all this in front of nobody, when a performance like this would’ve seriously impressed the Full Sail crowd and ingratiated them to her, and would’ve built some substantial heat for the eventual Kai/Shotzi rematch. ESPECIALLY if Kai wins that number one contender match. It is what it is, I guess. At least Shotzi got in the tank entrance before the world went to shit.

Same: The North American Championship Triple Threat

I think more so than Raw or Smackdown or even AEW Dynamite, NXT’s empty arena shows are showing how crucial the crowd’s rabid response to NXT, its matches, its characters, and its plot progression are to NXT existing and feeling like itself. These shows, at least to me, feel like they’re not even happening. The wrestling’s still good, but NXT being the WWE brand that actually excites people and gets them reacting is what makes it special. If you remove that, the line between it and something like Raw or Smackdown is pretty damn thin. Like, Street Profits and Kevin Owens vs. Austin Theory, Angel Garza, and Seth Rollins could be switched with Lee vs. Dijakovic vs. Priest and there wouldn’t be much difference. Again, I know none of this is WWE or the performers’ faults and they can’t do anything about it, but get SOMEBODY out there reacting to it. Subtracting 100% of fans and adding a color commentator who sounds like hates having to be there kills the whole vibe.

So anyway, yeah, with no TakeOver we’re forced to do Keith Lee vs. Dominik Dijakovic vs. Damian Priest in a triple threat match for the North American Championship on a normal, empty building edition of NXT TV with only Tom Phillips and Sam Roberts to react to it. I’m kinda shocked Sam didn’t spend the whole match talking about how Keith actually sucks and doesn’t belong on a TakeOver episode. Even moreso than how it affects our enjoyment at home, I think the lack of crowd response hurts the performers in the ring. How can you get invested and feel the ebb and flow of the match without folks reacting to it? It’s gotta feel like practice, even when it’s a high stakes championship match on TV. That might explain some of the rough spots, which I’m not sure would’ve happened under normal circumstances.

Again though, I want to make sure I’m typing too many sentences about how I appreciate the performers for trying to work through this insane global situation, and how happy I am that pro wrestling’s trying to persevere in spite of every sports organization in the world shuttering its doors weeks ago. I just don’t think WWE’s doing them any favors by pretending it’s business as usual, because the context is off, and context is everything.

Next week we’re getting a (I won’t say “the”) blow off to the Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa feud that’s been going on for four damn years with that same loss of context. If they spend the entire episode kicking out of stuff without a crowd to react to it, we’re officially in “tree falls in the woods and no one’s around to hear it” territory.

To Leave You On A High Note After All This Depressing Distillation Of Content And Intent

Here’s Malcolm Bivens formally introducing Rinku, Saurav, and Bivens Enterprises. Times are tough, but at least we’re getting Stoke.

Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week


I hope for Dexter’s entire career Bobby Lashley tries to convince everyone that he’s a serial killer but no one believes him despite it being very obvious that he’s a serial killer

Mr. Bliss

“The Archer of Infamy” uses a nightstick as a weapon? Sure. Can’t wait til next week on AEW when “The Blade” shows up with a gun and “The Butcher” shows up with a potato peeler.

Blackheart’s run in this gauntlet match would be more impressive if she wasn’t beating people who qualified for the match by losing a different match.


Anyone figure out why Councilman Jamm is on commentary for NXT yet?


Sam Roberts has a face for radio and a voice for audiobooks for the deaf

Dexter Lumis is Imperium catnip


Vince: I’m proud of you, Hunter.
HHH: Wow….thank you, Vince. I guess I always knew, but to actually hear you say it…I’m really emotional right n….
Vince: You found the son of Tony Atlas and SQUASHED him just like I would have! So proud!
HHH: …and the moment’s gone.


Sam Roberts sounds like Walter the Muppet and looks like if Walter the Muppet were stitched together entirely out of human assholes


Dexter Lumis looks like a tatted blonde Von Kaiser from Punch Out!!


*hears Sam Roberts’s voice for only a second*
Welp, looks like I’m just watching AEW for the next two hours.

WWE Network


That’s it for this week’s Best and Worst of NXT. As always, make sure to drop down into our comments section and let us know what you thought of the episode, and if you liked or laughed at anything in here, give us a share on social media to help us out. It helps more than you know, especially during all this COVID-19 nightmare where we’re trying to keep freelancers lancing freely writing about almost wrestling shows.

Join us here next week for Gargano vs. Ciampa, the number one contender’s ladder match, and (I hope) extended vignettes of Matt Riddle trying to figure out how to get Pete Dunne back to Full Sail during a travel ban. Also, you know, WrestleMania this weekend. See you then sometime!

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CJ McCollum Will Donate $170,000 Towards COVID-19 Relief In Portland And Northeast Ohio

CJ McCollum calls two places home. There is, of course, Portland, the city in which he’s spent his entire NBA career as a member of the Trail Blazers, and there’s Canton, Ohio. Born and raised there, McCollum never forgets his roots, whether that’s by showing love to the area or making it clear as day that he will always support the Cleveland Browns.

With the NBA currently on hiatus due to COVID-19, McCollum wanted to do something to lend a hand to the two places he calls home. According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports, McCollum will make a $170,000 donation towards charities in both areas: $100,000 is going towards the Akron-Canton Food Bank, and $70,000 is going towards the Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland Metro Area.

McCollum’s financial contribution to the club will help with staff retention, virtual counseling and other programs for children and families, as well as meal distribution.

The funds donated to the Food Bank will provide 400,000 meals to families in McCollum’s hometown of Canton and other towns in Stark and Tuscarawas counties.

These donations by McCollum are incredibly generous and helpful, as they will do a number of really important things that lend a hand to folks who could most use one. McCollum is the latest NBA player to offer support, and in recent days, we’ve seen LeBron James give students and their families at his school their own Taco Tuesday dinners and Kyrie Irving donate to Feeding America on his birthday, among a number of other moves to help out communities impacted by the virus.

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Anything Can Happen On Late Night Talk Shows Now, And It’s Absolutely Terrific

On Wednesday night, I was lying in bed watching television (something I’ve grown far more accustomed to over the last few weeks), tuned into The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. There’s Colbert, sitting in some rag-tag, do-it-yourself office he’s constructed at home, on a video conference call with Ryan Reynolds. Now, for whatever reason, Colbert has been a better interviewer in this setting. He’s loose. He’s more himself. In front of a live audience, I think Colbert has it in his head that he still owes the audience a taste of the more sarcastic Colbert character from his old show. But here, at his home, we are getting this warm, comforting presence – which is very appealing right now. And this results in his interviews being a little more slapdash, in a positive way. Just about any topic could be brought up. On Monday, there’s John Oliver conferencing in, looking kind of hilariously glum, which is refreshing because we all feel glum right now. On Tuesday night it resulted in Daniel Radcliffe – after dealing with audio issues, that were also fascinating – showing off his Jurassic Park LEGO set. On Wednesday, somehow, it led to Colbert telling some wild story about his first audition being for the role of Screech Powers on Saved by the Bell, which seemed to tickle Ryan Reynolds to no end.

It’s been like this on most of the late night shows right now. And I’m sure if you ask each of the hosts individually, they’ll say something like, “Oh, we are doing the best we can under the circumstances, but we can’t wait to get back to our respective studios.” But the weird thing is, late night television is outstanding right now. I can’t remember a time in recent memory in which I enjoyed it more. It’s making the host rely on individual personality overproduction. It’s like getting a concentrated dose of the hosts themselves, as opposed to an over-produced bonanza where each night feels the same.

Over the weekend, feeling nostalgic, I was watching clips of old Late Night with David Letterman. I eventually clicked on a full episode and I watched the whole thing. It’s the one where Dave welcomed both Sonny Bono and Cher (this isn’t the one where Cher calls Dave an asshole, that was before). This episode was famous for Dave convincing the former husband and wife to sing “I Got You Babe.” So, there are a few interesting things going on here. The song was not planned. Now, I know today when stuff like this happens, it’s presented like it’s not planned, but it’s always planned. Here, it’s very obvious this was something the Late Night people had come up with right before taping and hadn’t gotten Cher’s approval. It’s fascinating television. And when Cher finally agrees (Sonny had agreed before the show started), the song is both magical and kind of terrible because it hadn’t been rehearsed. Which, again, makes great television.

But the other thing I noticed while watching a full episode is how Dave just makes us feel like we’re in on the whole joke. During his monologue, Dave makes a quip about singing a song. Then he busts out laughing because an off-camera stage manager starts walking toward him with a microphone as if Dave was actually going to sing a song. Then Dave explains to us, at home, what just happened. Dave is surrounded by nonsense and he knows it and he wants the at-home viewer to know it’s nonsense. This then led me to some Johnny Carson clips from the ‘80s and even that was shocking how lackadaisical it all was. It’s a weird cross between Johnny, like his protégé Letterman, letting us in on the joke, combined with almost a “cool lounge” vibe to the proceedings. It’s crazy, if Johnny Carson did his show today in the current late night field, it would be considered groundbreaking.

As opposed to Carson and Letterman, it’s almost as if today’s late night host rather rely on the production of the show itself as opposed to their individual personalities. Now, they are forced to rely on themselves and only themselves and they are better off for it.

Surprisingly, Seth Meyers’ “A Closer Look” segments have been more pointed without the studio laughter. Meyers – who seems to have a new backdrop for his show every night, which is endearing because it’s almost like his family just keep telling him to move to another spot – uses his “sarcastic, yet pissed off” face to just stare into an abyss of no one after a stinging punchline. I’m sure he doesn’t think so, because it’s so abnormal to have to do this in the setting he’s doing them in, but as a viewer it’s great. Because, like the old Letterman and Carson shows, anything could happen. These aren’t overly produced segments where everything is planned to the last second. It’s Seth and Fred Armisen texting each other pictures, just farting around – both of their personalities front and center, more than any planned bit of comedy could ever produce. Honestly, I’d watch an entire hour of them just talking. Though, I also enjoyed when Meyers was videoconferencing with Martha Stewart and she was openly mocking him for his new setup in his attic. (My one nitpick is, unlike Colbert, we aren’t seeing many of the outakes. Meyers mentioned once that his cat had ruined a few takes. You know what, just show us those. Because why not?)

Jimmy Kimmel has been interesting because he seems the most polished in his current situation. Maybe it’s his radio background coming back to him, but he seems right at home at home. But there’s something nurturing about the way Kimmel has conducted business lately. Of course, this probably has a lot to do with how outspoken he’s been about healthcare over the last couple of years, but he feels like an authority figure. Someone who grasps what’s happening. Then he’ll switch off and ask Tracy Morgan to let us watch Morgan bowl in his home bowling alley. (You know, like everyone else, it’s not my favorite thing to see famous people in their large houses, while I’m crammed into a tiny Manhattan apartment. But there is something comforting about Tracy Morgan having his own bowling alley. I’m glad he can bowl anytime he wants.)

Conan O’Brien’s podcast has been a must-listen over the last year or so. Now, I’ve been told more than once that, in person, there’s no funnier human being than Conan O’Brien. And a lot of that comes out on his podcast. And he’s a great example of the difference between hosting a television show, where even Conan’s new format still has “TV constraints,” versus Conan just going full Conan. And now, at home, Conan has gone full Conan. And it’s much-watch television. On Wednesday he had Jesse Eisenberg on, who was video-chatting in from an RV in Lawrence, Kansas. The connection was awful but, again, I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. At one point Eisenberg’s wife walks in and starts asking him about paper towels, or something. Again, anything could happen.

(I hate to be at all negative, because everyone is doing the best they can. But I do think everyone’s best gifts as late night hosts are being heightened: Colbert’s empathy, Meyers’ barely contained rage, etc. We are also seeing that with Fallon and his playfulness, but something feels off about it at this point right now. His guests have been more about dumb star power than conversationalists. And I know for a fact Fallon is a good conversationalist when he allows himself to be that. It’s like we are getting a concentrated form of his worst impulses. It’s weird during the biggest world crises of our lives, to turn on NBC and see a grown man in a treehouse, then ending the show by exiting through a slide. Could you imagine Johnny Carson sitting in a treehouse? It’s very weird.)

This era of late night television will be remembered for how overproduced it all is. Shows aren’t “cool” anymore. They are “planned.” If nothing else, these last couple weeks have reminded me why I watch and love late night programing to begin with: the hosts. And those hosts’ individual personalities. And it’s more apparent than ever that in normal times, the shows themselves swallow the hosts. There’s no sense of danger. There’s no sense anything can happen. Everything is planned to the second. But not now. The hosts now have to rely on themselves again. They have to literally let us peak behind the cameras again. It’s “cool.” And, frankly, it’s been much better this way.

You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.

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In Appreciation Of Adam Schlesinger, ‘Welcome Interstate Managers,’ And When Small Things Felt Big

My connection to Adam Schlesinger’s work is slight compared to others who followed him through every stop of a lengthy and varied career. Sure, I’ve long admired the technical splendor of “That Thing You Do” and how he managed to place a masterful pretender in the rafters beside the best legitimate pop concoctions of the 1960s. His work on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend in collaboration with Rachel Bloom, Jack Dolgen, and Steven M. Gold (among others) is further evidence of a genius-level handle on pop craftsmanship and songwriting, never ceasing to surprise and delight with wit, charm, and lyrical smirks. But the thing I most associate him with is Fountains Of Wayne and, specifically, their 2003 breakout album Welcome Interstate Managers. Which was the first thing I jumped to when I heard that Schlesinger had passed away after being savaged by COVID-19.

Welcome Interstate Managers’ biggest and best-remembered hit is, of course, “Stacy’s Mom,” a power-pop force that allowed Fountains Of Wayne to plant a flag in our collective public consciousness in 2003. The song is sticky, uncomplicated, horny, and paired brilliantly with an even more horny music video that played into the appeal of a scantily clad Rachel Hunter and the 2000’s white-hot ‘80s nostalgia fixation. The word “perfect” comes to mind when thinking about that mix of song, media, and moment. But there are richer experiences and better demonstrations of both Schlesinger and co-writer/bandmate Chris Collingwood’s proficiency as lyricists and storytellers and the entire band’s musicianship on the album.

What stands out most about Welcome Interstate Managers is the diversity of the material. Nothing sounds like “Stacy’s Mom,” but none of the other tracks really sound like each other either. Instead, Schlesinger and Collingwood pull inspiration from Tom Petty, The Beatles, The Cars, The Beach Boys, Linda Rondstadt, Paul Simon, Leonard Cohen, U2, and even country music. The end result stands out as an interesting and evocative collection of songs that too many people shruggingly dismissed as the filler around a one-hit-wonder. Because we’ve always had more content than time to appropriately assess and appreciate it. (Until, quite probably, these last few weeks of social distancing and slowing down.)

There’s “Hackensack,” an exactly three minutes long shuffle about fixation and light in the dark of life that keeps a sad sack from North Jersey going while waiting on something that’ll never come. Close your eyes, listen, and you can see the movie play in your head. “Bright Future In Sales” is more muscular in its sound and disguised as a pep talk for a worker bee trying to buy into his own mock excitement over modest ambitions. “Hey Julie” is a sweet, spare, acoustic song about the grind of work and its toll on the lives we try to lead with the people we try to lead them with. (And it guts me everytime.) While “Fire Island” flashes back to more dreamy teenage misbehavior.

There are also songs on the album that reach ahead in time to connect to now, punching you squarely in the gut. “Valley Winter Song” may as well be on the soundtrack for the disaster movie that is 2020 as it sings about crafting a song during winter in isolation for someone longing for the sunlit summer. It opens with the words, “Hey Sweet Annie / Don’t take it so bad / You know the summer’s coming soon.” Oy. “All Kinds Of Time” talks about football while barely hiding revelations about the lie that youth affords us when we think we’ve got time enough to see the whole field in front of us. It’s a particularly cruel reminder of why this article is being written.

What Schlesinger and Collingwood delivered with Welcome Interstate Managers is a meditation on suburban purgatory and angst, creating mostly nameless characters whose struggles, frustrations, and desires felt like relatable slices of life. Gritting my teeth through mind-numbing employment in 2003, while floating between teen dreams and adult realities in New Jersey (two towns over from the store that inspired the band’s name), means I was the exact right audience for all of that. But listening now, there’s a timelessness that reveals itself. Though, the idea of timelessness is a bit under attack now.

As we think on and celebrate the greatness that Schlesinger put into this world before he so sadly and prematurely got taken out of it, it’s hard to not wonder if we should linger in this exercise of reflection on that simpler time, cherishing what might be a fleeting chance to take the time to grieve with specificity on someone who impacted us from afar. I don’t know if pop contemplation of life’s comparatively less serious yet foundational experiences can continue on or if everything is going to be epic and existential from here on out. For now, though, maybe it’s best to enjoy Schlesinger’s gift and hold on, a little longer, to the normality it projected. The one where small things felt big.

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Hayley Williams’ Guitar-Driven ‘Over Yet’ Gives Another Preview Of Her Solo Effort ‘Petals For Armor’

After exciting Paramore fans by announcing a solo project, Hayley Williams has released her debut solo EP Petals For Armor I and is gearing up for its full-length follow-up. The singer has been anything but quiet with her album’s promotion and has already released the single “Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris” with indie powerhouse Boygenius. Now, the singer returns with her revved-up single “Over Yet” while promising a new video on the horizon.

For the new single, Williams blends down-tempo electric guitar with bright percussive elements to craft an empowering anthem. “If there’s resistance / It makes you stronger / Make it your friend,” Williams sings.

Sharing the song on social media, the singer said being stuck in quarantine has inspired her to film an aerobics video to accompany the song: “had to envision myself as an aerobics instructor (who’s actually secretly a robot) in a post-apocalyptic society in order to get these super positive lyrics out,” she wrote in a tweet. “so, bc we’re all bored as sh*t and i need stuff to do, i’m filming an exercise vid to this song. coming soon.”

Listen to “Over Yet” above.

Petals For Armor is out 5/8 via Atlantic. Pre-order it here.

Hayley Williams is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.

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Mom creates a jar of ‘magical things to look forward to’ to help kids cope with lockdown

We’re in our millionth week of social distancing and staying at home, or at least that’s how it feels some days.

I keep thinking about my kids, and how much longer this must feel for them. Kid time isn’t adult time. Not being able to play with friends or go out to familiar places for weeks on end will feel like years in their memories.

One mom shared a simple idea on Facebook that’s resonating with thousands. A quarantine “bucket list” of sorts that gives both kids and adults a place to put their frustration or sadness over the things they miss doing.

Katie Eborall wrote:

“We’ve started a new thing in our house today and sharing it in case anyone else wants to try. Every time we wish we could do something, go somewhere, treat ourselves, see someone we love, visit a new place, invite people to visit us, we’re going to write it down on a post it note and put it in a jar. When all this is over this will be our bucket list and we’ll work our way through the jar and be more grateful than ever for the little and lovely things in our lives. Until then we’ll enjoy watching the jar fill up with magical things to look forward to.”

The sample notes in her photos include simple joys: “Stay at Grandma’s house,” and “Go and build a sandcastle on the beach.”

It’s honestly heartening to see that this family is NOT going to Grandma’s house or to the beach and adhering to the stay-at-home orders to slow the spread. But it is a reminder of what we’re sacrificing to save lives.

It’s all too easy to say things like, “It could be worse,” or “We still have so much to be grateful for,” and those things are true. However, it’s also important to acknowledge that what we’re doing isn’t easy, and this activity gives everyone a chance to honor the feeling of missing things in a healthy and positive way.

It’s a physical outlet for an emotional reality, and an easy one for anyone of any age to utilize.

Sometimes the best ideas are the simplest ones. Well done, Ms. Eborall. Thanks for the inspiration.